• Michael Barrows

Why Hobbyist Health?

Since the 1st lockdown in March 2020, a lot of people took the opportunity to learn something new, I think they also came to be grateful for what they had before. Me personally, I had to carry on working within childrens mental health. Weekends were spent doing the same repetitive things with the kids and feeling like a failure as a parent for not providing more opportunity for them (even though I know they loved our attention). I was missing my personal time and space and the ability to go out and do the hobbies that were for me.

Now, as lockdown progressed, I started to see this same difficulties in the clients I was working with. Particularly adolescents. Developmentally for adolescents, this is the time to be out with friends, building on who you will become as an adult and exploring/experimenting with personal interests. But lockdown took that away and instead it left a generation of young people feeling lost and purposeless. My role then seemed to be managing the same things, young people feeling aimless and unable to do the things they enjoyed in the same way. They started to show more symptoms of depression. A study completed by YoungMinds (2020), of 2000 young people highlighted that 87% of respondents felt lonely and isolated in the first lock down, despite 71% of these still having regular contact with friends.


Some people showed more resilience and took the opportunity by the horns and go for it, starting new trends and learning new skills. Judging from what was being bought excessively in supermarkets, the country went from crapping its pants, to comfort eating cakes to then decorating every room in their house! But then you had the key workers, the ones expected to carry on as normal and equally missing out and like young people were also starting to suffer.

In losing my hobbies it reminded me how important they are not just to me, but everyone. They are my social life but they also give a bit of meaning to my weeks. Hobbies allow us to find a sense of belonging, which is particular more pertinent to Adolescents. We seek affirmation from others and getting positive feedback from that sense of belonging, makes us feel good. Take that away and people feel lost and without their tribe. If we feel stuck and lost we need to create difference to get ourselves out of that. To quote part of my old Systemic Practice training, we are not only looking to do something different, but find a difference that makes a difference!

So my mission with Hobbyist Health is to challenge some of the unhelpful thoughts about starting something new, helping people know where to find others who have the same interests as them, but also highlighting the benefits to our mental health in finding that sense of belonging.

Thank you for reading

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